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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
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Quhel(e, Quheil(e, n. Also: qwhel(e, quhell, quhwell; quel, qwel; quheele; quheill, qwheill, quheyle, quheyll; queill; quhile, quhill, quhyll; whel(e; whell; wheel, wheell(e; wheil(e, wheill, wheeille; wheale; whil; well, weill; vhele. [North. ME and north. e.m.E. quele (Cursor M.), qwel- (1376), qwhele (1404), qwele (a1450); ME and e.m.E. whel (Orm), wheel (Wyclif), whiel (Gower), qweel (15th c.); wheylle (Cath. Angl.), wheyl (15th c.); whelle (15th c.); wil- (c1340), quile (a1400), whyll (1467), while, whil- (16th c.); OE hwéol, (hweow(o)l, hweogol).]

1. A wheel; freq., one of a set of wheels on a vehicle or the like.For further examples see Assiltré n., Axtré n., Busch(e n.3, v.3, Cart n.1, Cresche n., Cresch(e v., Doul(e n., Extré n., Fely n., Filly n.2, Hup(e n., Hupe v., Limmour n., Nave n.1, Navill n.2, etc.Also proverb., or allusively.(1) 1375 Barb. xvii 609.
Ane cren thai haf gert dres vp hey Rynand on quhelis [E. quheillis]
a1500 Lanc. 735.
With mony o strong chariot and cher With yrne qwhelis
1496 Treas. Acc. I 320.
Payment of the quhelis making for the artailȝerj
1497 Ib. 328.
With irne grath to Melros to scho the quhelis thare
1513 Doug. ii iv 64.
Turnand quhelis thai set in … Vndir the feit of this ilke bysnyng jaip
1538–9 Treas. Acc. VII 212.
Quhilk quhelis ran upoun extreis of irne
1548 Ib. IX 198, etc. 1580 Reg. Privy C. III 320.
The quhelis garnesit with schone and twa virollis only
(b) 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 422.
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 228. 1532 Treas. Acc. VI 157.
1545 Ib. VIII 380.
Bandis of irne to the quheillis of the saiddis moyanis
1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Æn. v 274.
Aerea rota, a schod quheill
1574–5 Haddington Treas. Acc. 30.
Danskyne yrin to the quheillis to be buschis and gyrthis dulbandis
1578 Inv. Wardrobe 250.
Ane cannon … montit upoun … Frensche quheillis weill garnist with yron werk
Ib. 251. 1581 Mar & Kellie MSS 34.
1629 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 225 (see Borell n.). 1643–4 Dumfries Treas. Acc. MS 12.
To Jon Willsone for … making a wheill
1680 Fawside Coal Compt 59.
For bussing of a wheill
(c) 1517 Wigtown B. Ct. 75a.
The vrangus haldin fra him of ane quhile ane quhile barow [etc.]
1558 Treas. Acc. X 435.
(d) 1539 Treas. Acc. VII 214.
Gun stokkis and quhellis
a1578 Pitsc. II 99/11. 1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 19b.(2) 1496 Treas. Acc. I 302.
To ij cartaris to fech a pare of quhelis
1513 Ib. IV 513.
For the schoyng of xx pair of greit quhelis, ilk pair x s.
1538–9 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 248.
Twa pair small Frensch quhelis
1542 Treas. Acc. VIII 129.
xxx pair small quhelis for slangis
1574–5 Haddington Treas. Acc. 26.
Ane payre quhelis to the towne to cary myllstanis on
1633 Edinb. Test. LVI 187.
Ane waine with ane pair of quheillis
1660 Banff Ann. I 142.
(3) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 579.
Ane chare of foure quheilis
proverb. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 410.
Bot ouer waine and quheil in wil he get
1513 Doug. xiii Prol. 118.
Neuer … Mair than langis to the cart the fift quheill
c1515 Asl. MS I 327/16, 17.
Ezechias … saw a quhele with iiij facis in myddis of ane nother quhele
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 15.
They can do no moir than the wheillis can do without the extrie
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1849.
Ye mister it als meikle as the cart dois the thrid quheill

b. Freq. as the second element of a compound in which the first element specifies the vehicle concerned.For further instances see bombart-, cart- (kart-), falcoun-, gun-, etc. 1566 Inv. Wardrobe 169.
Batterd quheillis
1598 Treas. Acc. MS 86b.
Twa pair of batterit quheillis
1496 Treas. Acc. I 326.
The bombart quhelis making
1513 Treas. Acc. IV 522.
Canon quhelis
1539 Ib. VII 216, etc. 1578 Inv. Wardrobe 259.
Ane greit naill tuyll for cannoun quheillis
1501 Prestwick B. Rec. 37.
And of restoracioun of a pair of car quhelys
1506 Treas. Acc. III 88.
For ane pair of grathit cart quhelis
1513 Doug. v v 57. 1529 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 10.
Ane wyndband to ane cart quheill
1618 Ib. II 127. 1578 Inv. Wardrobe 257.
Ane pair of auld cosche quheillis
1526 Treas. Acc. V 266.
Falcoun quhelis
1511 Ib. IV 259.
To the qweile wricht of Melros at makis the gune quelis
1585 Elphinstone Mun. 22. 1538–9 Treas. Acc. VII 211.
Munitioun quhelis
1539 Ib. 228. 1591 St. A. B. Ct. 3 Aug.
Ane pair of sufficient vaine quheillis

c. Attrib. and comb.In quhele-gaid, -graith, etc.Also Quhele-band n., Quhele-barrow n., Quhele-makar n., Quhele-wricht n. 1512 Treas. Acc. IV 377.
Hewand hem stokkis and quheill graith
1513 Ib. 509.
For the wyrking of vj wallis irne in quhele werk
1537–8 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 233.
Quheill rymmis
1564 Perth B. Ct. 126 (28 July).
xvj pair of quhele gaidis and four pair of quhele gadis
1566 Prot. Bk. Thomas Johnsoun 101.
45 quheile spokkis
1570 Inverness Rec. I 195.
That na quheill sleddis pass … vpon the brig

2. A wheel, as part of a mechanism. a. A wheel of a water-mill.For further examples see Miln-quheill n. a.Also comb. in -hous.(1) 14.. Quon. Attach. c. 34.
Gif a man fell in the mil dame & sagat is borne doune to the mil quhel
1578 Inverness Rec. I 261.
Myln quheile
1502 Acta Conc. MS XII 111.
Wranguis … distruccione of his myln … the trowis & quhelis thairof
1532 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 101.
For thre grete peis of squair tymmer for ane quheill to the said myln
1558–9 Edinb. Old Acc. I 294.
The expenses of the Lytill Myl in rasying hir saw tree and hir quheles and mending hir foirschot
1589 Glasgow B. Rec. I 136.
With sufficient happar, hup, quheillis, mylnrynd [etc.]
1639 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 411 (see Aw n.2).
1645 Tulliallan Coal Wks. 146b.
For hardis for calfing of the quhill
(2) 1591 Edinb. Test. XXIII 339.
Aucht inner quheillis of start & aw
1623 Prot. Bk. J. Scott MS.
The vtter quheill and inner quheill of Balcaithlie milne
1624 Peebles B. Rec. I 365.
The inner quheill of new aik, the vtter quheill new of asch
1692 Musselburgh 38.
The counsell appoynts ane outter wheale to be bought … for the sea milne
(3) attrib. 1503 Reg. Cupar A. I 259.
In our myl brewhous and quheilhous of our forsaid abbay

b. One of the wheels in the mechanism of a clock.For further examples, and for instances of quhele as the second element of a compound with Horologe n., Mid adj. 1 (1), Nombre n. attrib., Pais n.2 3 b and wanrest, see these words, also Nett n., and the ‘detailed account of the structure of the public clocks of Aberdeen’ in Melville Commonpl. Bk. 29–32. 1542 Rec. Univ. Aberd. 577.
Five quhelis and ane gret band off the ald knok
1582 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 125.
Ane foir loik to ane quhill of the knoik
c1590 Fowler I 263/2.
1598 Whitelaw Sc. Arms Makers 37.
For mending the quheills and extre of the towbuithe knok
1621-40 Melville Commonpl. Bk. 29.
The peas quheill hath of tooth … 68
Ib. (see Mid adj. 1 (1)). Ib. 30 (see Nombre n. attrib.). Ib. 30.
The midle quheill
1651–2 Peebles B. Rec. II 193.
The knok wheile

c. In various other mechanisms or processes.See also Kaipe-quheill n.Pin-quheill, a wheel forming part of the mechanism of a lock: cf. Pin n.1 1 d, also 18th c. Eng. pin the cylindrical part in a lock on which the pipe of the key fits (1703). 1473–4 Treas. Acc. I 65.
Mylne quhelis for the diching of the kingis harnes
1566 Prot. Bk. Thomas Johnsoun 102.
The welhous, … ane irne chenye with the wyndas and the quheile, with yett and lok
1578 Inv. Wardrobe 257.
Ane auld boiring quheill garnist with yron werk
1583 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 184.
Ane quheill of bras … to heis & cary all work & tymmer to the stepill
1593 Ib. 500.
For mending the lok of the new kirk dur and making the quheillis of it new
1595 Ib. 571.
For mending of tua doubill plait lokis making to euerie ane of thame tua doubill quheillis with ane pin quheill to euerie ane of thame
c1598 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 15a.
For blokis to our treses … for moldes … for quhellis
1624 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 259.
Ane bobbing wheill with tempels and rods
1634 Edinb. Test. LVI 302.
The quheill perteaning to the pewderer craft
1637 Glasgow Trades House 188.
For ane quheill to the bell
1638 Edinb. Test. LVIII 331b.
[In] the pewderer irone work lomes following … ane balk, ane quheill, ane prent, heukis [etc.]
1653 Lamont Diary 52.
This chaine was lett doune and taken vp by a great timber wheeille meade for that purposse
1688 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XXVII 150.
I thought … of makeing a wheel that turns about with the wind

3. Applied, metonymically, to various kinds of wheel-operated spinning machines or winders of yarn; a spinning-wheel. Also comb.See also Quhele spun. 1502 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 123.
Ane quheill and j par of kardis
1529 Wigtown B. Ct. fol. 225b.
Schallans fore … dyning hyre seruandis & takyne ovt of the stok of a quheyll & a cavdrone
1533 Aberd. B. Rec. I 451.
Ane wheill, ane par of woll camis
1534 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 144.
Ane quheill and cairdis, ane hakyll and paissill
1581 Brechin Test. I 49b.
Twentie aucht quhwellis
1615 Haddington Mem. II 292.
Ane wheill for worsett
1619 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 199.
And als ane twyning mill … and als thriescoir quheillis
1651 Nicoll Diary 61.
Sum pure pepill quha wer spyning that day loist thair quheillis
1653 Edinb. Test. LXVII 146.
Thrie mikle wheillis … tua litle wheillis
comb. 1588–9 Glasgow B. Rec. I 129.
Ane quheill spynnill
1599 Black Bk. Taymouth 335.
Quheill spynnillis

b. Also, freq., with defining term specifying more precisely the function, etc. of the ‘wheel’.For further instances, see these terms, also Card n.2, Chak reill n., Haik n.2 d, Kard(e n.1, Lint n. 4 b (2), Pirn n. 1 e, silk, worset, etc.Laying wheill, cf. 17th c. Eng. linnen wheele (1638) and Lane n.2 1567 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. App. 314.
Ane spynnyng quheill
1595 Brechin Test. I 128b (see Pirneing quheill n.).
Pirneing quheill
1599 Black Bk. Taymouth 335.
Spynning quheillis
1612 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 190.
Byrl quheil
1643 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 4.
For breaking of ane paire of yearne wells
1647 Edinb. Test. LXIII 126b (see Laying wheill). 1667 Ib. LXXIII 107.
Ane old lint quheill ane wool quheill and ane chak wheill with ȝearne winders
1675 Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 129.
Ane spining wheill, ane fyning wheill, ane old lint quheill
1685 Soc. Ant. LVIII 362.
2 oull wheills
1715 Crail Squaremen 29.
Lint whils, ul whils, chak riels and hemp whils

4. A large wheel, used in torture or punishment. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 545.
A quhele … in it hade S[ch]arpe swerdis scherand in al syde
Ib. xlvii 84.
Thane wes scho … one a rond quhele set on ane, Foul of colis red brynnand
c1450 Mill Mediæv. Plays 173.
The grayth of the prossession of Corpus Christi … Sanc Katerins quheil Sanc Androwis cros [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Orph. 265 (Ch. & M.).
Sisteris thre … Turnand a quhele [Asl. quheile] … And on it spred a man hecht Ixione
1513 Doug. vi ix 185.
On quhelis spakis speldyt otheris hyngis
1531 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 27 July.
[The] assys … delyveris Male Mane and Marion Mane wit, and to be set on a cart quheill at the croce thre howrs … in lynning clayths
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II 207.
And therfor thai war all takin and hyngitt apon hye quhelis
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2287.
In euery kirk and queir … Sanct Katherine, with hir swerd and quheill
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. vii 6.
Ixion … Doth suffer tortour on the restles quheele
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 171.
Both they and hee … were brocken upon a wheill

5. Fortune's wheel, an emblem of mutability.Only in poetry.(1) 1375 Barb. xiii 651 (E).
For on his syd the quheyle on hycht Rais quhen the tother doun gan lycht
Ib. 656. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1225.
Quhan on-fortone quhelmys the quheil … Quha may his danger endure?
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2947 (Bann.).
Now on the quheill now wappit to the ground
a1568 Bann. MS 26a/43.
And prowd men … He severit hes and … doun fra the quheill thame thraw
1603 Philotus 793.(2) ?1438 Alex. ii 6735.
Fortune dissauis ȝow … And turnis sa soudanly hir quheill
c1475 Wall. vi 89.
Fy on fortoun, fy on thi frewall quheyll
Ib. viii 23. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxv 14.
Preis thé nocht to stryfe aganis my quheill Quhilk every warldly thing dois turne and steir
Ib. xxiv 12. 1535 Stewart 2599.
Fortoun turnit hir fikkill quheill
Ib. 25217.
Doun of her quheill scho gaif him sic ane faw
Ib. 58639. a1585 Maitl. Q. lxv 114.
Sall I spurne with fortounis quhirling quheill
(3) 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 172.
Inconstant warld and quheill contrarious

b. (He, heich, on hicht) on (up on) Fortune's quhele, in a state of prosperity. 1375 Barb. xiii 637.
This mychty kyng of Yngland Scho had set on her quheill on hicht
1456 Hay I 65/11.
Ector, Alexander, [etc.] … the quhilkis Fortune has set hye up on the quhele
a1500 Henr. Orph. 486. Id. Test. Cress. 550.
Sa eleuait I was in wantones And clam vpon the fickill quheill sa hie
1535 Stewart 20307.
For quhen thai ar most heiche vpone the quheill
Ib. 48077.
And in her [sc. Fortune's] fauour hieast on the quheill [: feill]
Ib. 20314. a1578 Pitsc. I 32/18.
He is neirrest perrell and decay that seittis presentlie hichest vpone the quheill

6. transf., fig. and in comparisons.(1) c1420 Wynt. i 1573 (W).
The Zodiak, that we quheill call
(2) ?1438 Alex. ii 5094.
He saw ane poune, That with his tale maid iolely The quheill
1494 Loutfut MS 26b.
The paon … dressis wp his taill to mak a quheill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxvi 3 (Bann.).
Quhat is this lyfe … Ane slyding quheill ws lent to win remeid
1513 Doug. xii Prol. 162.
The pantyt povn … Kest vp his taill, a provd plesand quheill [Ruddim. quhile] rym
1531 Bell. Boece I x.
Quhill yeris swift with quhelis properant Consume thy strenth
a1538 Abell 1a.
This present work I haif callit the roit or quheill of tyme
c1610 Melville Mem. 223.
Bot a wyse king skattereth the wicked and causeth the whell to wholme ouer them
(3) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxvi 19.
And round abowt him, as a quheill, Hang all in rumpillis to the heill His kethat
c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 44.
Thare gownis … Circulat about als round as quheillis
c1590 J. Stewart 33/124.
And hir ritche array Spred lyk ane quheile about hir cumlie corse
(4) c1460 Thewis Wysmen 426.
Thai can nocht wone quhen thai ar veill, Bot tolterand, turnand as a quheill
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlviii 185.
The bouand dolphin, tumbland lik a vhele

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"Quhel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2022 <>



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